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Land Categorisation Hawke's Bay

This webpage, prepared by Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, Wairoa District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, provides information on land categorisation areas for property owners in flood-affected areas of Hawke’s Bay.

If you are seeking broader information on Cyclone Gabrielle recovery, please visit your local Council’s website by clicking on the logos at the bottom of the page.

Consultation timeline

Thursday 1 June - AM Thursday 1 June - PM Wednesday 14 June
Letters sent to affected residents Press releases published (Government and Regional) Affected communities engagement begins


In February 2023, Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay faced devastation and loss from Cyclone Gabrielle – one of the biggest natural disasters in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. Across the region, our communities have endured significant impact to their lives, livelihoods, whānau, homes, farms, orchards, vineyards and neighbourhoods.

Since then, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, and the Government’s Cyclone Recovery Taskforce have been assessing future severe weather risk in areas across the region. This process has involved looking at information from a range of sources, including data from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the district and city councils, the Ministry for the Environment, and claims data from insurance companies.

The risk assessment and land categorisation process is complex and being completed in phases:  

  • On 1 June, Councils made direct contact with property owners in areas which had been provisionally categorised as Category 2 or Category 3, advising these property owners that more work was underway to finalise the land categorisation for their area.  
  • A more detailed review of the initial assessment data, including an independent review, was completed on Wednesday, 14 June. There were minor changes to the provisional categorisations of some areas following the review, and Councils have been in touch with those property owners directly to advise them of the change in provisional categorisation.
  • From mid-June, Councils commenced a community engagement process, which includes gathering further information from a variety of sources, including property owners and impacted residents, before final categorisation decisions are made.

It is important to note that this is uncharted territory for how Aotearoa New Zealand deals with natural disasters of this scale. Any decisions made must have future and inter-generational safety at their heart and, while we don’t yet have all the answers, we are committed to sharing what we do know, when we know.

The information on this website is the best available information based on what is known at the time and will continue to be updated on a regular basis when further information is available.

Initial land categorisations

For those whose properties were provisionally categorised as either a 2 (2A, 2C*, 2C or 2P) or a 3, you should have received an email or letter, via post, from your local Council advising you of this provisional category as well updating you on the risk assessment process that was underway. Since that initial advice, and following the completion of the independent review of the provisional land categorisation data, you may have received a subsequent email or letter advising you of a change to the provisional category of the area your property is in.

The information below has been prepared to help you understand the provisional categories, the process to date, and the process going forward, including what the next steps are and how you and your community can be involved.

What ‘risk’ are you assessing?

The risk assessment process is helping build a picture of how likely it is that future severe weather events would pose a risk to life and, where there is risk, if there is a way this risk may be managed to provide as much assurance as possible that it is safe for people to live in the area.

What are the categories, and what do they mean?

The Government has outlined three main categories which will be used to determine the future severe weather risk for specific areas across Hawke’s Bay and other areas across the North Island impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle:

Initial risk categories and definitions:

Category Definitions Examples
1 Repair to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather risk event. Minor flood damage to repair but no need for significant redesign/retrofitting.
2C* The outcome of quality assurance of existing stop bank rebuilds may see the categorisation change to a 1, which has the following definition: ‘Repair [dwelling] to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather risk event.’ As above.
2C Community level interventions are effective in managing future severe weather risk event. Local government repairs and enhances flood protection schemes to adequately manage the risk of future flooding events in the face of climate change effects.
2P Property level interventions are needed to manage future severe weather event risk, including in tandem with community level interventions. Property specific measures are necessary e.g. improved drainage, raising houses is necessary. Benefits accrue to property owners but some may face affordability issues.
2A Potential to fall within 2C/2P but significant further assessment required. Interventions may be required/possible but insufficient information to provide initial categorisation (these may subsequently move between "2" and categories or to categories 1/3).
3 Future severe weather event risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated. In some cases some current land uses may remain acceptable, while for others there is intolerable risk of injury or death. In the face of enhanced climate risks the property may face unacceptable risk of future flooding. Other property could be subject to unstable land that poses an ongoing risk.

Council and their roles

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

The Regional Council’s role in the land categorisation process is to provide technical data and assessment of future severe weather event risk in impacted areas across the region.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Hastings District Council, Napier City Council and Wairoa District Council

Together, the role of the region’s city and district councils is to deliver a locally-led engagement process, supported by regional and central agencies. 

What happens next?

Category 1

Those with properties located in Category 1 areas that were damaged because of the Cyclone can now move on with their recovery.

This may include repairing or rebuilding your property, at the same site, should you wish to do so. These repairs can take place using your private insurance if you have it. There are building consent exemptions in place to make it easier and faster, and you can find out more about these exemptions from your local Council.

Please note that identification of a property as being located in a Category 1 area is not an assurance that it will never be impacted by future severe weather events.

Category 2 

In Category 2 areas, risk mitigation may be required at either a community or a property-specific level in order for the area to be safe to live.

For Category 2C* properties, the outcome of quality assurance of existing stop bank rebuilds may see the categorisation change to a 1, which has the following definition: ‘Repair [dwelling] to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather risk event.’

For Category 2A, 2C and 2P properties, your local Council will be communicating with you directly regarding any community meetings and/or next steps.

Category 3

In Category 3 areas, a currently unacceptable level of future risk means it may no longer be safe for people to live there.

It is important to note that these provisional assessments are just the start of the process. Each Category 2 and Category 3 area is unique and influenced by a range of different factors and, as a result, we acknowledge that we need to gather further information from a variety of sources, including the affected community, before any final decision can be made. There is a wide range of scenarios and circumstances that will exist in such areas across the region.

With the independent review of the provisional assessment data now complete, your local council has commenced the next stage of the process which involves engaging directly with you and other property owners in your area. This is an important step in the broader recovery process and will ensure we fully understand the valuable local knowledge that exists within our communities.

We want to reassure communities that any decision that impacts them will be made with their involvement and input.

Category 3 Voluntary Buy-out Programme

Under the Crown’s land categorisation framework, there will be areas confirmed as too dangerous to live due to the flood risk and designated Category 3. The Hawke’s Bay councils have been in complex discussions with the Crown to settle on a support package to allow our worst-affected communities to move forward with their lives. The package sets out that the Crown and Hastings District and Napier City councils will share the cost of a voluntary Category 3 residential property buy-out programme.

There are some key steps required to enable this programme to commence:

  • Hastings District Council and Napier City Council adopt a Long Term Plan Amendment to allow for the activity and associated costs of a buy-out programme (adopted 14 September)
  • Hastings District Council and Napier City Council adopt a joint Category 3 Voluntary Buy-out Policy (adopted 14 September)
  • All Hawke’s Bay councils sign their funding terms of agreements with the Crown (in progress)
  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council confirm Category 3 areas (target date end of September)
  • Hastings District Council and Napier City Council establish the function to enable acquisitions to proceed (target date early October)

An information pack is being developed to help property owners understand the programme and their options, which will be made available to Category 3 property owners once the categorisation is confirmed. All owners will be contacted with information on how to register their interest in the buy-out programme.

View the Category 3 Voluntary Buy-out Policy here

How communities can be involved

If your property has been provisionally identified as category 2 or 3, you should have received notification via email (or post if we do not hold your current email address) outlining the community engagement process for the area your property is in and how you can be involved. Please contact your local council if you wish to update your contact information.

Where to get help

We acknowledge the uncertainty about what is happening with your property and your community may be challenging. 

There is support available for you and your whānau if you need it, including:

  • Log on to to find a service close to you or you can call or text Need to Talk 1737 any time to talk with a trained counsellor.
  • At most general practices you can phone and book in to see a Health Improvement Practitioner (HIP), a registered mental health professional who provides advice and support promoting self-management, and connects people to other services they may need. Every day, HIPs have appointments that are not pre-booked so you can phone a general practice where you are enrolled and book in on that day.
  • The Depression Helpline – Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions.
  • Youthline – Call 0800 376 633, text 234, email, or go to for an online chat.
  • The Lowdown – Text 5626 for support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
  • Healthline – Call 0800 611 116 for health advice and information.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline – Call 0800 787 797 to speak with a trained counsellor.
  • Tips and support, go to
  • You can download the Groov and Headstrong wellbeing apps free for android and Apple phones. Just go to Google Play or the Apple app store.
  • Rural Support Trusts – a local Rural Support Trust (RST) is a great place to access free and confidential support and advice. This nationwide network, run by local people, helps farming families and rural communities. RSTs have facilitators trained to recognise issues with mental health and wellbeing. They can also put you in touch with services including health information or financial support. You can give them a call to talk through your options. Call 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) to arrange a free and confidential chat at a place that suits you, or visit
  • Farmstrong – Farmstrong is a nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community. Their aim is to help you live well to farm well. On their website you can find a range of resources to help you manage your wellbeing. Visit

For more information

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you’d like to speak to someone about any of the information on this page, please contact 0800 117 672 between 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am - 2pm weekends and public holidays. 

If you’d like to contact your local council, click on the respective logos.

Central Hawkes Bay District Council.
Hastings District Council.
Napier City Council.
Wairoa District Council.
Hawkes Bay Regional Council.

Hastings District Council - Copyright © 2023 Hastings District Council

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